Strategically Creative

Author: Kathy Mayer
Brand strategist by day, chef by night

By day, Maurice Markey (BSIE ’89), leads strategic development and brand management for a multibilliondollar portfolio of products, sometimes joking with his creative agency partners, “I’m really a creative person trapped inside this business body.”

Maurice Markey

Maurice Markey: “Engineering gave me a solid foundation on how to think systematically, analyze data, extract information that is important and discard what isn’t.”

At home, this vice president of private brands for Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., lets the creative juices flow in the kitchen, where he’s known for his mushroom covered beef tenderloin, crab cakes and crab-stuffed flounder. He learned the art from his mother, who was an Indianapolis caterer.

“During the summers, working parties and weddings helped me pay for college,” says Markey, one of eight children. “Now, I like having friends over and trying new things. I do it for the joy of those I’m cooking for.”

His mom was one of many good teachers. “I was a kid that had some aptitude academically,and my counselors and teachers guided me,” he says.

During high school, a Purdue minority engineering summer program planted the seed for engineering in Boilermaker country. “I felt industrial engineering would afford me an opportunity to be a little broader, and that would ultimately benefit me,” he says.

“For me, it was the right platform. Engineering gave me a solid foundation on how to think systematically, analyze data, extract information that is important and discard what isn’t, set up the situation, and ultimately solve it. That training has applicability no matter what you do.”

With his IE degree and then an MBA from Indiana University, Markey initially headed to Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.’s engineering and manufacturing operations; and after Indiana, to Kraft Foods for nearly 15 years, last serving as vice president of marketing. He took his Sam’s Club post in January 2009.

As a leader, he says, “I articulate a clear vision and provide motivation to accomplish that vision.” Communicating effectively is paramount, as is hard work. “I’m passionate, solution-oriented, and open to ideas, ideas, ideas — that came from my Purdue training.”

Where life takes him — Ohio, Chicago, Asia, now Arkansas — this father of three, who met his wife, Tamara, at Purdue, makes time for other children, too. In Cambodia, he volunteered at an orphanage; in Chicago, he mentored in the Chicago Public Schools. In Arkansas, he’s mentoring third-grade boys in an enrichment program.

“I just love kids,” Markey says. “I love the intersection of youth and education.”